My Journey, So Far

It has been almost two months since I have begun this journey into Biblical Womanhood. It is so amazing to me how many “accidents” and “coincidences” that have helped shape my journey. It all started with homeschooling. My daughter has only just turned four, but I knew when she was born that I wanted the best education for her. I thought that the best I could offer was to send her to private school and I even found the one that I would send her to. It wasn’t until I moved to this area (Olympia, WA) that I found people that recommended homeschooling as a way of life. As soon as the thought popped into my head, I was hooked. My very first homeschooling book was So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, by Lisa Whelchel. I think she does a great job of explaining and showing the different ways to homeschool as well as link you to places that can give you better information. I think by far, it is the best book to give someone who is THINKING about homeschooling. I plan on purchasing it for each of my sisters. As I read it, I honed in on classical education. I bought The Well-Trained Mind and scoured it. I attacked it with a highlighter and made charts and graphs galore. By now, my daughter was a year old, but I was ready to start preschool. [Unfortunately, all my motivation came to naught when I found that the television caters to young children. We have been trying to break Mommy’s addiction ASAP.] I started to spread my wings as I looked back through Whelchel’s book and saw Trivium Pursuit listed. I didn’t like the site and brushed it off as “antiquated” and ignored the idea for several years. It was always lingering in my mind so after rereading Whelchel’s book again several months ago, I decided that I must homeschool and I approached Trivium Pursuit again. I bought their book, Teaching the Trivium, and began to read it. I was evaluating everything against my “homeschooling bible” which was WTM. However, as I committed to reading the book, even though it just didn’t seem like it was written for this generation, an interesting thing happened.

The Bluedorns recommended a book called The Mother At Home which was written in the 1800s. I decided to purchase it, since I knew that I was struggling with my purpose at home. However, I ordered through amazon.com and they like to sell extra books and on the site for The Mother At Home was another book, Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God, by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald. Since I wanted free shipping and liked the catching title, I bought it as well. It was my husband’s last day home for a month because of time to be served with the National Guard when my books came, but I was ashamed about purchasing them (because I didn’t ask first) and tried to hide them. I was about as effective as Adam and Eve in the garden, but to my surprise, my husband wasn’t upset. When I looked at the back cover, I found that Jennie Chancy was the founder of Ladies Against Feminism, which I mocked and that Stacy McDonald was the author of a book called Maidens of Virtue, I mocked her even further. After all, I had always called myself an “anti-feminist” because after my college class in “Women’s History” I became convinced that all feminism did was trap women further than they ever had been in the past. That was not the popular opinion even though I was attending a Catholic School, run by Benedictine monks! However, maidens…ladies…virtue…skirts??? I was both intrigued and offended by what I was reading, but the intrigue won out. During the month of my husband’s absence, I realized that my position as the “head” of the house had to change, and fast since just months before, we were very seriously talking about divorce- we had started to divide furniture and debt. It was incredibly humbling to see that I was the cause of the friction in the marriage. His biggest complaint? I didn’t clean the house even though I stayed at home all day with our children. Yes, I was ready to divorce my husband because I didn’t want someone to tell me when to clean house and how well to do it!!! Praise the Lord, He knocked some sense into me!!!
The “start here” page on LAF is really where I began with my Biblical womanhood journey. I read about modesty standards, but wasn’t really too convinced because I had always considered myself to be a modest dresser. The biggest push came from the word “feminine” because I wasn’t really encouraged to go that direction. The day I saw a VERY modestly dressed woman at the coffee shop sticks out in my mind. The was dressed in a loose-fitting (but not baggy) t-shirt and just above the knee length shorts. She was wearing athletic shoes and her hair was cut extremely short. Truly, there was nothing immodest about her outfit, according to the way I was judging modesty. What she completely lacked was femininity. This resonated deeply with me because I did not dress like a woman either. I spent some time talking on the phone with my husband who surprised me by supporting the decision, though he specifically said that often times, women’s skirts are LESS modest than the jeans, to which I agreed and reassured him that that would not be the case with my skirts. One of the best articles I read at that time was an article called Modesty: Is it all in our dress? which really got me because it is very easy to ADD things, but Biblical Womanhood calls for the losing of oneself, no that is incorrect, Christianity calls for the sacrificing of oneself, women are just privileged enough to get to practice this principle in their own home among those who love them!
Anyway, to stop this story from getting any longer- where am I today? I have just received three new dress patterns from Common Sense Patterns and I am eager to begin purchasing fabric and sewing my fall and winter wardrobe. I have quite a few projects that are already under way, two long skirts to make, four dresses for my daughter, and enough fabric for two dresses and two underskirts. I have fabric coming out of my ears and yet, I am still eager to buy more. Wearing skirts (for I don’t have any dresses yet) has been really difficult, more so that I thought. I am not worried about the people I meet in Wal-Mart as they have very little pull on my life. However, the people I am influenced by, like my parents and sisters, and of course, husband, are more likely to respond to the way I am dressing verbally, but they are also some of the people who are having a hard time adjusting to my change. Praise the Lord because my husband supports my decision and though he doesn’t find my clothing “sexy” he also admits that that is a very good thing for clothing to be. He is very honest and tells me when he doesn’t particularly care for something. It seems like his opinions are gradually getting more “old-fashioned” as I begin to wear more modest, feminine clothes. There are people who don’t agree with me and it does make life more difficult, however, I am enjoying even the difficult times because I am able to go back and remember why I am doing what I am doing and I can take comfort in the word of God.

Modesty and the Olympics

Boy has this modesty subject really turned my life around!!! I was happy and content wearing snug-fitting blue jeans and t-shirts. My shirts aren’t incredibly low-cut, but they are low enough to need caution when bending down. However, I have always taken pride in how modest I dress comparatively. Now my notions seem to be tumbling down around me! My mother and I (along with my two children) visited the zoo the other day and I was shocked at what I was seeing. Women with no bras, insane amounts of skin revealed, outfits that are specifically designed to show off the female figure. I am sure that my mom was tired of me commenting on the immodesty of the people at the zoo that day, but she wisely held her tongue until we were in the car later that day. My mom has been the most vocal about my changes but I expected that. Actually, I am very impressed with how well my mom is staying silent about my choices but I get the feeling that she is just waiting for it to all blow over, as many of my ideas and commitments have in the past. Lately, our conversation has centered around the Olympics, which brings a welcome “easy topic” to the subject list….or does it?

I am feeling a little bit like a hypocrite on this subject matter. I don’t think that all swimsuits are immodest. I think that a well-cut Speedo type suit is perfectly modest, though many would say that it isn’t modest at all and I would agree with them too. I love watching gymnastics; it is my favorite sport in the world. As I watched the events this year, I kept seeing these young women’s rear ends hanging out of the side of the leotard. Not only was this unattractive but the camera had a way of focusing (probably because of the angles due to the elevated platforms) on all these spots! Then comes the question, okay, so it’s immodest. Now what? Do you prevent any activity in that sport because the uniform is immodest? Gymnastics is one of the oldest sports around, though I suppose that it hasn’t always been the women in the events. 
After thinking it all through I am prepared to be on the conservative side of “mainstream” and just specify that the modesty within a particular sport but evaluated from within the sport. This makes sense to me because a bathing suit (even a modest Speedo) is not appropriate to go to Wal-Mart in. However,  modest suit at the swimming pool does not attract attention and I think that is the key. I would say that it would be extremely appropriate to attempt to train with same-sex training partners and coaches and I would specify that an immediate cover-up is also appropriate when in mixed company. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to completely avoid ALL sports that compromise our normal standards of feminine dress and modesty. There are plenty of subtle ways to be feminine and modest even when participating in sports that necessitate an immodest uniform.
There is another reason for all these thoughts, in addition to the Olympics….though it’s a long one. I truly want to get pregnant again, but for my health and the baby’s health, my husband and I have agreed to wait until I lose a significant amount of weight. Mostly we are waiting more on the establishment of a healthy lifestyle and habits rather than the arbitrary numbers on the scale but I have long been feeling like I needed to set a specific goal. That is wear triathlon comes in. While gymnastics is my favorite sport, I have absolutely no hopes of ever performing more than a cartwheel. I really enjoy tennis, but it is difficult to “work out” for tennis without a partner. I really do enjoy swimming however, and biking, and running (or at least I did when I could actually run). Combining those three seemed to be a good combination of everything that I needed: a physically active goal, an independent sport, and inherent variety. So, now I am going to be attempting to train for a triathlon on top of everything else. The GREAT news is that as I am just a beginner, I can wear my modest workout pants while running or biking, and a suit and shorts for swimming. 
So, now I turn my thoughts to anyone else’s. What do you consider to be appropriate exercise for a woman attempting to stay modest? Important to note is that I am not trying to lose 10 pounds, I am trying to lose 50+. So, am I being hypocritical by wearing dresses to Wal-Mart and a Speedo in the pool? (Luckily the head covering isn’t as large as issue because it is essential to wear a swimming cap in the pool, a helmet on the bike, and okay to wear a hat during the run…however, those things might cover the head, but that doesn’t make them headcovers, does it? Suggestions?

Chosen

In exactly one week, I will have been a mother for 4 years (not including the original pregnancy) and as I look back one of the things that stand out is my nonstop feeling of being “just the babysitter.” In my behavior, in all my actions, and especially my inaction when in the presence of anyone else, I have taught myself to be just that- temporary care for children who are more dear to me than anyone in the world. I haven’t appropriately dealt with this because it seems like every time it comes up, I have been left alone for a period of time (right now, Eric has been away for a month with the National Guard and my mom was away in New Mexico visiting my sister and her newest baby.) The problem is that these people inevitably come back. Therefore, I am never really forced to accept that I have this problem. 

I received an email the other day that reminded me that I was specially chosen for this job of motherhood and not just in general, I was chosen to be Jordyn and Noah’s Mommy. That is my God-ordained role and I need to step into it and take “ownership” of it. I am not the babysitter, regardless of what I have been deceived into believing. It is up to me to train my children, not Dora, not Grandma, not the public school system…me, just me! Why is stepping into this role so difficult? What is it that makes me think that this is the job that God will not give me the strength to accomplish? What a fool I am.

“Slack”ing Off

I thoroughly love the idea of wearing skirts and dresses all the time, but the last few days have been difficult. It started on Thursday, when I wore pants to Wal-Mart. The feeling wasn’t pleasant, and I happily wore a skirt on Friday. I had planned to finish sewing a skirt on Friday and then wear it. I didn’t sew on Friday, but since I was already wearing a skirt, I just pushed my plans to Saturday. My mom usually takes my kids for me on the first Saturday of every month because she loves the Home Depot Free Project as well as spending time with her grandkids. Well, although the day started off slower than normal, I did manage to spend plenty of time sewing my skirt…but I never finished it!!! I needed white thread for a particular seam and though I had a bobbin full, I couldn’t find the spool anywhere!!! When it was time to pick up the kids, I was forced to pull on my jeans again to pick them up. I went “all out” in my old fashion- jeans, t-shirt, athletic shoes. I was surprised to remember how comfortable my running shoes are, maybe I will work out more. All in all, I was dressed extremely casually and though I had my moments where I wished I had been in a skirt, I still felt okay.

Today was different. Today is Sunday, the Lord’s Day. I attend an extremely casual church and though I absolutely love their Bible teaching, I sometimes feel like I should be dressed up more for church. In the past, there has been nothing to distinguish my “Sunday” clothes from the rest- I just wear whatever is clean, also known as jeans and a t-shirt. Even though it is summer, my Pacific Northwest home is still undecided about its season. Today, we had gray skies and what looked like a chilly day. The past two days have been cold enough that I had to get sweatshirts for my kids to play outside. I didn’t have any long skirts clean, the only two skirts I did have were knee-length. I didn’t have any tights or hose that fit (it is extremely difficult to find good quality pantyhose when you are a plus-size!!!) and on top of that, I don’t have any shoes that I can wear with hose! I was exasperated because I did want to wear a skirt to church. I suppose I should have gone in my skirt with my sandal-heels and just worn a sweater, but I asked my husband’s opinion and he told me to wear jeans. I did.
The problem is that unlike yesterday, at the end of the day I wasn’t displeased with my outfit. I am wearing my “dress” jeans, if in fact that is possible, and I tried to wear a nice shirt, I curled my hair and put on a little make-up. Then, I wore my sandal-heels to feel dressier. I felt good about myself. It makes me question if what I have been thinking about (wearing dresses exclusively) is actually a good thing. I don’t want to stand out so far that people are repulsed by me and I always get the feeling when I am looking at a skirt or dress for someone my size that it resembles more of a tent than a garment. Am I alone in these thoughts? There are so many very pretty and feminine things out there, I just feel like, because I am overweight, that they don’t look either pretty nor feminine on me. I think that they just look like I am trying to be Amish (or Mennonite or Hutterite) and though I am a Christian, I am not any of those and do not particularly desire to be identified as one. I sincerely wish that wearing dresses was more culturally acceptable because that would make wearing them infinitely easier.